English Barque – Captain Cook
“No sea can hurt her…”
(The famous words of Captain James Cook referring to the H.M.S. Endeavour.)
In 1768 Lieutenant James Cook, RN, set sail ENDEAVOUR on a voyage of exploration and scientific investigation. After observing the transit of Venus across the sun at Otaheite in the Pacific, Cook sailed south- west to disprove the existence of a “Great South Land”. By 1770 Cook had reached New Zealand.
He circumnavigated and completely charted the north and south islands before continuing west. In April, he sighted the east coast of New Holland (now called Australia) and sailed north along the coast before anchoring in what he named Botany Bay. He then continued north to Cape York and on to Batavia in the then Dutch East Indies (Jakarta, Indonesia). During the four months voyage along the coast Cook charted the coastline from Point Hicks (Victoria) to Cape York (Queensland) and proclaimed the eastern part of the continent for Great Britain.
Cook was not the first person nor even the first European to “discover” Australia, but he was the first to accurately chart a substantial part of the coastline and to fix the continent in relation to known waters. His explorations have also been given significance because, due to a variety of circumstances, they were followed up within a few years by a British expedition to settle the “new” continent.
For these reasons, Cook is considered a major figure in Australia’s modern history. Numerous places in Australasia, particularly on the east Australian coast and New Zealand, have been named after him or his vessel, and many of the names he gave to parts of the Australian east coast in 1770 are still used (e.g. Cape Tribulation, Botany Bay, the Whitsundays).
Cook’s 1768-1771 voyage in ENDEAVOUR is also considered to be of general historical importance because of its great contributions to the world’s knowledge of seamanship and navigation, as well as geography. On this voyage Cook became the first captain to calculate his longitudinal position with accuracy, using a complex mathematical formula developed in the 1760s. He was also the first to substantially reduce scurvy among his crew, a serious, sometimes fatal result of dietary deficiency on long voyages. Cook is considered to be one of the greatest explorers and is ranked with Vasco de Gama and Columbus.
Izak J H Hough
Member of The Nautical Research Guild